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GUEST COLUMN: Survey leads off City Parks Master Plan update; public meeting April 30

Submitted by Colorado Springs Parks

       “The planning process will help us define a long-term vision to guide city decision making for the future of our outstanding park system.”
                                        Karen Palus, director, City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services

       “Community participation is critical in defining the future of our parks, recreation programs, trails and open spaces. We invite residents to participate and share their vision for the future.”
                                         Chris Lieber, City Parks development manager

       Parks and recreation facilities, programs and services are a very important part of quality of life for Colorado Springs residents. Once a decade, the City of Colorado Springs engages the community in updating the city-wide Parks Master Plan. This comprehensive planning process guides the city in the planning, management, programming and funding of all parks, trails and open spaces within the City of Colorado Springs.
       To participate in the city-wide master-plan process and to learn more about the survey results, the community is invited to attend a Parks Master Plan meeting Wednesday, April 30 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St. To learn more about the process, please visit our website, springsgov.com/parksmasterplan.
       The updated master plan is an opportunity for the city to understand citizens' values and anticipate future needs. Numerous opportunities for public involvement, including round table discussions, surveys, and public meetings, will be offered.
       To understand the public's perspective and preferences, the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services commissioned a scientific survey of Colorado Springs residents. The survey gauged resident use of current recreation opportunities and satisfaction with current facilities and programs. Preliminary survey results included the following:
       Colorado Springs residents frequently partake in and are willing to travel to participate in community recreation activities.
       ~ About 7 in 10 respondents have recreated outdoors at least once a week over the past year - five of those seven recreated 2 to 4 times per week. ~
       ~ About two-thirds of respondents were willing to travel up to 5˝-9 miles for indoor or outdoor recreation activities in Colorado Springs, and 4 in 10 respondents were willing to travel up to 10-19 miles, while nearly 2 in 10 would travel 20-plus miles. ~
       Colorado Springs residents are satisfied with the facility and program offerings of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services but see areas where offerings could be improved to meet their needs.
       ~ 80 percent of survey respondents are satisfied with the recreation programs/activities offered by the city.
       ~ 73 percent are satisfied with the trails system.
       ~ 62 percent are satisfied with the level of maintenance of the parks, open spaces and trails.
       ~ Half or more felt that the amount of community gardens, places to fish, places to participate in winter sports and recreation places for people with special needs was “too little” or even “far too little.”
       Residents support maintaining the existing park system over expanding facilities and program offerings and acquiring new open space.
       Survey respondents were asked to rate the importance of a list of six action items for the city to undertake; the top rated-action item was to improve the maintenance and care of trails. Seventy-four percent reported that this is “essential” or “very important.”
       The survey was mailed to 1,600 randomly selected residential addresses within Colorado Springs. A total of 252 completed surveys was received, a response rate of 16 percent. It is customary to describe the precision of estimates made from surveys by a “level of confidence” (or margin of error). The 95 percent confidence level for this survey is generally no greater than plus or minus six percentage points around any given percent reported for all survey respondents.

(Posted 4/18/14; Opinion: Guest Columns)

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